The police and the Football Association in England have launched a new campaign to tackle racist abuse in amateur football. Previous campaigns have been aimed at players and fans in the professional game, leaving fans and players in the amateur game vulnerable.
Footballers in schools and local league games are being warned that racist behaviour will also be treated seriously by the police. Officers will investigate racist abuse on the pitch as a possible hate crime to discourage those responsible. It has been known for some time that racist incidents happen frequently at the grassroots level in football, but very few are reported.
During the pilot scheme in south east London, about 3,000 posters are being displayed. Information cards will also be handed out to the thousands of players and spectators who turn out every weekend for amateur matches. The message on them will read that racist abuse on the pitch is unacceptable, illegal and will be acted upon.
The FA says if the pilot is successful, the project will be rolled out to other areas. Witnesses are being urged to report incidents to an FA hotline: 0800 085 0508.